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Extremely Proud and Incredibly Open
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (DVD)
Member Name: Jojoborne
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (DVD)
Advantages: Good acting. Nice direction. A different take on 9/11
Disadvantages: Will be too dialogue orientated and too slow for some people
Film only review
Seeing as the main character in this movie is of German descent but living in America, I think it is quite apt that I am an Englishman, living in Holland reviewing the movie that I watched on the opposite side of The Netherlands to which I live.
Having already read the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, I was quite looking forward to this movie. The only thing I knew about it beforehand was the fact that it was indeed adapted from the novel that I had read and it starred Tom Hanks. I decided to pay a visit to the cinema, I discovered that it also starred Sandra Bullock, John Goodman and misleadingly James Gadolfini.
I live in The Hague on the west of Holland and for the Easter weekend I found myself over the opposite side of Holland in the East in Almelo. Along with my girlfriend and her parents we made our way to Enschede to see the movie. Our tickets said row 'B', so I was kind of hoping that Row 'A' started at the back of the cinema or we would have an extremely loud and incredibly close viewing. Fortunatley, row 'B' was near the back.
Oskar Schell is nine years old. He likes to invent things and explore. He likes information and knowledge. His father used to set him tasks and he would go exploring with the aid of clues to find the answers. Life could be difficult for Oskar as he suffers with mild Asperges and a multitude of minor obsessive compulsive disorders.
Oskar's life is turned upside down on 11th September 2001 when he is rushed home from school because of the terrorist attack. His mother is trying to get home from work and his father is leaving messages on the answering machine; messages that come from the 106th floor of one of the towers.
Oskar never sees his father again and is distraught without him. He thinks of him constantly and every object is a reminder of his father in some way.
One year later Oskar is mooching in his Father's closet; something he has always put off until now. He comes across a blue vase, which he accidently knocks off the top shelf of storage space in the closet. The vase smashes open on the floor. Amongst the shattered china Oskar finds a small envelope with the name 'Black' written on it. The envelope contains a key.
Oskar devises a plan to search out every person in New York with the surname Black. He meets a lot of people along the way and seeing as he is not used to meeting people and feels inept at striking up a conversation, he feels his father would've been proud.
Oskar's grandmother has a lodger staying with her who Oskar is not allowed to meet. Oskar sees movement in the house one night and goes over to be confronted by an old man who is apparently mute. He has the word 'Yes' tattooed on his left hand and the word 'No' tattooed on his right. He speaks to Oskar by writing in a notebook and holding it up for Oskar to read.
'The Renter', as the old man is known, joins Oskar on his quest to find the owner of the key or indeed the lock to which the key fits.
Aided with the things he needs; a tambourine (to keep him calm), a pair of binoculars, a gas mask and the key, Oskar sets off on his quest with the old man.
Will he find the lock that the key fits or even better still what happened to his father? One thing is for sure, he will never stop trying unless it becomes mathematically impossible.
Cast and Crew
Oskar Schell played by Thomas Horn
I have to say that after reading the book that I thought they would be hard pressed to find a child actor with enough guile to play this role. When the film started I felt I was justified in this thought. Then something happened, Thomas Horn really took the role by the horns and gave it his all and I must say that he managed it very well indeed. It is not easy to play a child with all the problems of Oskar Schell and Horn did as good a job as I think anyone could have. Horn is not really from an acting background and in fact had only starred in a school play before taking this role. I think his inexperience and childlike wonder of what he is doing helped him immensely in his portrayal of this complicated young man. I can guarantee one thing for sure; this lad has a very bright future ahead of him.
Thomas Schell played by Tom Hanks
What more can be said of Tom Hanks. One of the most likable characters in film today and rightly so. Having firmly shook of the type-cast comedy actor tag of the eighties and nineties, Hanks could play a lollipop man to perfection. This role is more of a cameo by the way of flashbacks because his character is dead as the movie starts. Again, Hanks plays the role with a simplicity that belies the craft of acting. He is believable as Oskar's father and the two bounce off each other really well.
Linda Schell played by Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock is another actor who was better known for her comedic roles but has since starred in some more meatier productions. I really liked her in this movie. It would've been so easy to over-state this part. Like Hanks, she keeps it simple and by doing so keeps it real. Another thoroughly believable performance.
The Renter played by Max Von Sydow
Many of you (those old enough anyway) will remember Max Von Sydow from the Exorcist in his role as Father Merrin in 1973. In this movie he plays a mute who converses by way of a notebook and a yes and no tattoo on each hand. He was nominated for 'Best Supporting Actor' at the academy awards and became the second oldest man in the awards history to be nominated for best support. It is ironic that a man with such a beautiful diction should be silent in this movie. Nevertheless, he makes the role his own and plays it to the best of his capabilities. A thoroughly enjoyable character.
The Director and his work
Director Stephen Dalding is known for his time at the helm on the movies 'Billy Elliot', 'The Hours' and the more recently 'The Reader' starring Kate Winslet. He also caused some undeserved controversy when he married a woman and had a child after being in a gay relationship for thirteen years. The direction on this movie was not too far away from his other movies but I like the subtlety of some of the shots. Some of the twin tower shots must have been hard to view back in editing after the CGI had been put in place. It's not a beautiful movie in the way of cinematography but it is a solid movie that looks good in all the right places and flows along rather nicely at its own merry pace. It was quite well publicised that Daldry wanted the movie to wrap up in the fall of 2011 so that it would coincide with the tenth anniversary of 9/11. This was just not possible in the end and Daldry and the crew had to settle for a finish just into the New Year.
Daldry must have a way with actors because aside from Max Von Sydow's 'Best supporting' nomination on this movie he has also directed Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Julie Walters, Ed Harris and Kate Winslet to nominations or award success.
It's always a difficult one when it comes to seeing a movie and you have already read the book that it has been adapted from. I think you have to treat the movie as a separate entity. I am a movie buff but also a massive book fan and I usually favour the book. This is the case with Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The book is a lot more in-depth when it comes to Max Von Sydow's character, the renter and this was one of my favourite parts of the book. I always knew it would be hard to translate this character to the screen but I think Daldry and the script writer Eric Roth did a very good job at doing so. However, to tell the Renter's story like the book does would have entailed a lot of hard work and along with it a lot of confusion for the audience. That said it still does translate rather well and as I already referred to, it does not do any good trying to compare the two as they are two different works of art and stand up in their own right.
For me the performance of Thomas Horn was incredible and even more so due to the fact that he had never acted on screen before. There are some harrowing and heart wrenching scenes in the movie and the young Horn delivers a convincing performance. A couple of scenes with his on-screen mother, Sandra Bullock are veritable tear-jerkers and must have provoked some real feelings when being filmed.
It will be really interesting to see the cast interviews on the DVD extras to see just how profound an effect this young man had on the more seasoned actors. I will add the DVD review to this account in the future.
It was nice to see Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in roles that were understated, thus leaving the limelight to the movies true star, Thomas Horn. I like the way Horn evolved into the role and you are never quite sure whether you like him or not.
Max Von Sydow was brilliant as the Renter and although the complete sadness of this man is not transferred from the book to the movie because of time and script length, I still think he carries it off and makes the audience warm to him.
John Goodman makes brief appearances throughout the movie as 'Stan', the doorman of the building were the Schells live.
James Galdolfini is listed as an actor on this movie on most internet sites. He did indeed film parts for this movie as a grief counsellor for Linda Schell. The scenes were viewed negatively by screen testers and the part was removed from the movie. So although he is listed as an actor on the movie on lots of sites, he does not actually physically appear on screen.
Viola Davis plays a woman called Abby Black and Jeffrey Wright plays her ex-husband William Black. There are some good scenes from both these actors with the young Horn. Davis has a very touching scene with him near the beginning of the movie and Wright has a poignant scene with him near the end. Talking of poignant scenes, throughout the movie there are reminders of 9/11, which Oskar calls 'The Worst day' and some of the subliminal shots are hard hitting and to the point. A reflection through a clear vase as we see a body falling from one of the towers is a reminder of the choices people faced on that horrible day. A flash or dream sequence with Tom Hanks falling is quick and to the point just like the actual falls themselves must have been.
Oskar steps on to the rocks near central park and we get a glimpse of the New York skyline and it just makes you realize how different it is and how prominent those Twin towers were. It really does send a shiver through you to think what happened on that day. In one of the flashback scenes, Sandra Bullock is standing in her office talking to her husband on the phone. He tells her he is in one of the towers. As she listens to him she looks out of the large office window and we can see the towers on fire in the distance. It is a striking image and one that will provoke many feelings amongst the New Yorkers that watch this movie and indeed people all around the world.
All in all I thought this movie was a good watch and worth giving a go whether you have read the book or not. It won't break any box office records but it will definitely leave its mark and it stays with you for a time after seeing it, which is always a good sign that a movie has done what it set out to do. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was not made to shock, it was made to remind us that we are all vulnerable and that it doesn't matter how safe we think we are, we can be got at. It also reminds us that we can make a stand, we can fight back. I for one hope we do it sooner, rather than later, so we don't have to witness or suffer another 9/11.
Summary: Oskar Schell is nine years old and his world is turned on its head when he loses his father on 9/11